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Cover image for Station eleven : a novel
Format:
Title:
Station eleven : a novel
Other title(s):
Station 11
ISBN:
9780804172448

9781447268963

9781447268970

9780385353304
Edition:
First edition.
Publication:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2014]
Physical Description:
333 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, from the author of three highly acclaimed previous novels. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it"-- Provided by publisher.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
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FIC MANDEL
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Mandel, E. Station
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FICTION - MANDEL
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Mandel, E.
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FIC (SF) MANDEL 2014
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FICTION MANDEL
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Mandel, E.
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Mandel, E.
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BOOK GROUP KIT
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MANDEL Emily
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Mandel, E.
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On Order

Summary

Summary

A National Book Award Finalist
A PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist


Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of  King Lear . That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band's existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.


Author Notes

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She has written several novels including Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, The Lola Quartet, and Station Eleven. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and Venice Noir. In 2015, her novel, Station Eleven, was on the New York Times bestseller list and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction 2015. In the same year she won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award for science-fiction writing for her novel Statio Eleven.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Few themes are as played-out as that of post-apocalypse, but St. John Mandel (The Lola Quartet) finds a unique point of departure from which to examine civilization's wreckage, beginning with a performance of King Lear cut short by the onstage death of its lead, Arthur Leander, from an apparent heart attack. On hand are an aspiring paramedic, Jeevan Chaudary, and a young actress, Kirsten Raymonde; Leander's is only the first death they will witness, as a pandemic, the so-called Georgia Flu, quickly wipes out all but a few pockets of civilization. Twenty years later, Kirsten, now a member of a musical theater troupe, travels through a wasteland inhabited by a dangerous prophet and his followers. Guided only by the graphic novel called Station Eleven given to her by Leander before his death, she sets off on an arduous journey toward the Museum of Civilization, which is housed in a disused airport terminal. Kirsten is not the only survivor with a curious link to the actor: the story explores Jeevan's past as an entertainment journalist and, in a series of flashbacks, his role in Leander's decline. Also joining the cast are Leander's first wife, Miranda, who is the artist behind Station Eleven, and his best friend, 70-year-old Clark Thompson, who tends to the terminal settlement Kirsten is seeking. With its wild fusion of celebrity gossip and grim future, this book shouldn't work nearly so well, but St. John Mandel's examination of the connections between individuals with disparate destinies makes a case for the worth of even a single life. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

Survivors and victims of a pandemic populate this quietly ambitious take on a post-apocalyptic world where some strive to preserve art, culture and kindness.In her fourth novel, Mandel (The Lola Quartet, 2012, etc.) moves away from the literary thriller form of her previous books but keeps much of the intrigue. The story concerns the before and after of a catastrophic virus called the Georgia Flu that wipes out most of the worlds population. On one side of the timeline are the survivors, mainly a traveling troupe of musicians and actors and a stationary group stuck for years in an airport. On the other is a professional actor, who dies in the opening pages while performing King Lear, his ex-wives and his oldest friend, glimpsed in flashbacks. Theres also the mana paparazzo-turned-paramedicwho runs to the stage from the audience to try to revive him, a Samaritan role he will play again in later years. Mandel is effectively spare in her depiction of both the tough hand-to-mouth existence of a devastated world and the almost unchallenged life of the celebritythink of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion. The intrigue arises when the troupe is threatened by a cult and breaks into disparate offshoots struggling toward a common haven. Woven through these little odysseys, and cunningly linking the cushy past and the perilous present, is a figure called the Prophet. Indeed, Mandel spins a satisfying web of coincidence and kismet while providing numerous strong moments, as when one of the last planes lands at the airport and seals its doors in self-imposed quarantine, standing for days on the tarmac as those outside try not to ponder the nightmare within. Another strand of that web is a well-traveled copy of a sci-fi graphic novel drawn by the actors first wife, depicting a space station seeking a new home after aliens take over Eartha different sort of artist also pondering mans fate and future.Mandels solid writing and magnetic narrative make for a strong combination in what should be a breakout novel. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Mandel's (The Lola Quartet, 2012) ambitious, magnificent fourth novel examines the collapse of civilization after a deadly flu wipes out most of the world's population. Moving gracefully from the first days of the plague to years before it and decades after, Mandel anchors the story to Arthur Leander, a famous actor who dies of a heart attack while playing King Lear on stage. We see glimpses of Arthur's life years before his passing: his doomed relationship with his first wife, the exploitation of an old friendship, his failings as a father. And then we follow characters whose lives Arthur touched in some way: the paramedic who tried to save him, his second ex-wife and their damaged son, the child actress who joins a traveling theater troupe-cum-orchestra. In this postpandemic time, people live in gas stations and motels, curate museums filled with cell phones and car engines, and treasure tabloids and comic books. One comic book gives the novel its title and encapsulates the longing felt by the survivors for the world they have lost.Mandel's vision is not only achingly beautiful but also startlingly plausible, exposing the fragile beauty of the world we inhabit. In the burgeoning postapocalyptic literary genre, Mandel's transcendent, haunting novel deserves a place alongside The Road (2006), The Passage (2010), and The Dog Stars (2012).--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2014 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL'S fourth novel, "Station Eleven," begins with a spectacular end. One night, in a Toronto theater, onstage performing the role of King Lear, 51-year-old Arthur Leander has a fatal heart attack. There is barely time for people to absorb this shock when tragedy on a considerably vaster scale arrives in the form of a flu pandemic so lethal that, within weeks, most of the world's population has been killed. Among the people on the scene the night of Arthur's death is Kirsten Raymonde, an 8-year-old actress playing a tiny nonspeaking role as one of Lear's daughters as a child. (From the author's acknowledgments, we learn that this addition to Shakespeare's play is taken from an actual production of "Lear" staged by James Lapine in 2007 at the Public Theater.) When we meet Kirsten again, 20 years have passed and there is no more Toronto. There is no Canada, no United States. All countries and borders have vanished. There remain only scattered small towns. Kirsten is now part of something called the Traveling Symphony: 20 or so musicians and actors in horse-drawn wagons who roam from town to town in an area around the shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan. At each stop the Symphony entertains the public with concerts and theatrical performances - mostly Shakespeare because, as the troupe has learned, this is what audiences prefer. "People want what was best about the world," explains one musician. The Symphony has a motto, taken from an episode of "Star Trek: Voyager," "Survival is insufficient," and it is this unpoetical line - rather than, as one might expect, a quotation from Shakespeare - that Kirsten calls "my favorite line of text in the world." Since the age of 15, she has worn it tattooed on her left forearm. Though her memory of her own mother's face - and of the days when such things as electricity, gas, running water, pharmaceuticals and the Internet existed - has grown vague, Kirsten has always remembered, to the point of obsession, Arthur Leander. In his prime he had been a Hollywood star, and over the years Kirsten has made a habit of searching any printed matter she happens across for articles about him - mostly celebrity gossip - which she clips and carries about with her in a zip-lock bag. Also in the bag are two much read issues of a comic-book series featuring a character called Dr. Eleven, a physicist who lives on a space station after escaping an alien takeover of Earth. Twenty years have not dimmed Kirsten's passion for the comics, or her curiosity about their creator, identified only by the initials M.C. From flashbacks interspersed throughout the novel, we learn about Arthur's life - mostly the ups and downs of his acting career and of his three marriages, in particular his first, to an art school graduate named Miranda. It is she who created the Dr. Eleven comics, working on them as a hobby over many years during which she achieved professional success as an executive for a shipping company. She once made a present of the first two issues to Arthur, who in turn gave them to little Kirsten. Detailed descriptions of Miranda's comic-book project, also interspersed throughout, reveal (perhaps a bit too pointedly, for this reader) several parallels between her science fiction stories and events in the novel itself. The Symphony arrives in a town called St. Deborah by the Water, hoping to reunite with two members of their troupe who had stayed behind after a visit two years earlier because they were expecting a child. But neither the couple nor their child is to be found, and the Symphony is alarmed to discover that the town has come under the control of a religious fanatic known as "the prophet." Determined to track down their missing friends, the caravan moves on, their destination a former major airport that is now home to more than 300 people and something called the Museum of Civilization, where such old-world artifacts as cellphones, laptops, credit cards and a pair of red stiletto heels are on view. But their encounter with the prophet has put Kirsten and her fellow troupers in serious danger. Their journey is threatened by a succession of misadventures, and a showdown with their enemy becomes inevitable. Mandel is an able and exuberant storyteller, and many readers will be won over by her nimble interweaving of her characters' lives and fates. Two other survivors whose stories are deftly tied in are Arthur's closest male friend, who manages to find purpose in his role as an elder resident of the airport settlement, and a paramedic, first seen performing CPR on the actor on the night of his death, who yearns to make amends for a previous career as a cheap paparazzo (whose prey happened to include Arthur and Miranda). "Station Eleven" is as much a mystery as it is a post-apocalyptic tale, and Mandel is especially good at planting clues and raising the kind of plot-thickening questions that keep the reader turning pages. Why does the prophet own a dog with the same name as a dog owned by Dr. Eleven? What is the meaning of the two black knives tattooed on Kirsten's wrist? Who is this "V." to whom Arthur has written a slew of letters over the years? If Mandel has to rely heavily on coincidence to bring certain parts off, she does so with satisfying panache. WHERE THE BOOK falters, I think, is in its imagination of disaster. Having accepted the science that says a flu pandemic is highly probable in our future, Mandel chooses a worst possible situation, a plague that results in the immediate and total collapse of civilization. But the survivors do not think, act or speak like people struck by such a cataclysm. For the most part, they do not behave very differently from people living in ordinary, civilized times. Hunger, thirst and exhaustion are alluded to, but there is no penetrating sense of the day-to-day struggle of vulnerable human beings lacking the basic amenities of life. Also, although we are presented with a significant villain in the figure of the prophet, readers may wonder why few bad guys appear to have made it to Year 20. We are living in a time that has been extraordinary for outbreaks of violence and chaos all over the world, when news of carnage in places like Ukraine, Nigeria and the Middle East, and of the horrendous conditions that have turned tens of thousands of Central American children into desperate migrants, has been over-whelming. Reading Mandel's novel, I did not feel as if I was in the presence of that kind of suffering. The hairs never rose on the back of my neck; my eyes never filled with tears. Survival may indeed be insufficient, but does it follow that our love of art can save us? If "Station Eleven" reveals little insight into the effects of extreme terror and misery on humanity, it offers comfort and hope to those who believe, or want to believe, that doomsday can be survived, that in spite of everything people will remain good at heart, and that when they start building a new world they will want what was best about the old. All countries and borders have vanished. There remain only scattered small towns. SIGRID NUNEZ'S most recent book, "Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag," will be released in paperback in October.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. With an all too realistic and timely premise, Mandel's (The Lola Quartet) newest tells the story of the survivors of a worldwide pandemic that kills 99.9 percent of the population. Jumping around in time, from well before the pandemic to 20 years after, this elegant tale will linger with the listener. The main characters are all somehow connected to renowned actor Arthur Leander, who dies onstage while performing King Lear at the opening of the book. The individual stories of violence and hope flow together and create a memorable tale that is greater than the individual parts. It's a rare thing a tale about the end of civilization that leaves the reader in a positive, hopeful mood. Kristen Potter demonstrates her talent in voicing the wide range of characters, ages, and accents. VERDICT Recommended for fans of literary dystopian novels. ["This is a brilliantly constructed, highly literary, postapocalyptic page-turner and should be a breakout novel for Mandel," raved the starred review of the Knopf hc, LJ 9/1/14.] Donna Bachowski, Orange Cty. Lib. Syst., Orlando, FL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.